We went shopping at a Charlotte Russe store the day before it closed forever, and it was a depressing bargain bonanza

It was a depressing sight.

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It was a depressing sight.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

  • Charlotte Russe is in the process of liquidating.
  • I visited a store in Williamsburg, Virginia, on the day before it closed permanently.
  • The store was a mess, and the products were selling for ridiculously cheap prices.

Charlotte Russe is closing its doors permanently.

The company filed for liquidation earlier in March, joining the ranks of retailers that have gone bankrupt in 2019. This means that all of its 426 stores around the United States will close, and that over 8,700 Charlotte Russe employees will lose their jobs, according to USA Today.

Read more: Charlotte Russe is closing all of its stores. We visited the retailer the day it filed it for bankruptcy and saw how it’s fallen behind its fast-fashion rivals.

It also means that shoppers across America are getting the chance to pick at the carcass of the 44-year-old clothing retailer, as it attempts to sell off its remaining merchandise.

On a trip down to Virginia this weekend, I became one such shopper. My friend’s a fan of Charlotte Russe’s jeans, so we headed over to a nearby store to check out the closing sale.

Here’s what we saw:


On Sunday, my friend and I swung by the Charlotte Russe store in Williamsburg, Virginia. She wanted to look into its going-out-of-business-sale.

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We hit up the Charlotte Russe in Williamsburg, Virginia.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Our timing turned out to be pretty good.

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That’s me in the reflection.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

We arrived on the last day before this particular store shuttered forever.

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The store is now closed forever.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

And while a leftover sign indicated that the deals in the preceding days had been pretty sweet …

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Charlotte Russe is in the process of liquidating.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… the bargains we encountered were intense.

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Prices were slashed in the store we visited.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Walking in, I was struck by how deserted the store felt, despite the flock of customers.

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The space seemed bigger because it was so empty.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Charlotte Russe was one of my go-to stores when I was a teen, so the sight of bare walls and metal racks was jarring.

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The store was totally stripped down.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The store retained a few glimmers of better times. Seeing the cheerful pink savings wheel amidst all the empty racks bummed me out.

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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Feeling old and sad, I started making my way around the store.

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I took a break to snap an awkward mirror selfie.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

First up, I checked out the clothes. When it came to tops and dresses, there was only about one circular rack of heavy sweaters and wintry dresses left.

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The remaining styles were decidedly wintry.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

And the jean racks had been picked through, too. Most of the remnants were smaller sizes. My friend remarked that maybe this was an indicator of a disparity between the sizes American shoppers wear and the sizes that stores stock.

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There was a limited selection of jeans.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The store’s shoe section was particularly busy, with plenty of shoppers poring over $5 flats …

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All of these shoes were just $5 per pair.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… and the swiftly dwindling heap of shoe boxes, organized by size.

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Some of the options piqued my interest, but I’m not big on heels.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Each of these pairs also went for just $5.

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I scoured the store’s shoe selection.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

There were also a handful of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings left over, although someone had gone around and sniped a number of the hoop earrings.

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I noticed a few solo hoop earrings that were missing their twin.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

I saw a few pieces that I liked.

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I couldn’t pass up on a necklace that featured a St. Therese of Lisieux medallion.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

And I decided to grab some baubles for the road. The handful of jewelry ended up only costing me $3.42.

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My purchase came out to $3.42.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

But accessories and apparel weren’t the only thing on sale. Mannequins, racks, and shelving all had price tags, too.

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Much of the equipment was also for sale.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

There were even cleaning products spread out in the open, although I’m not sure whether or not those were for sale.

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Parts of the store were quite cluttered with supplies.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Business Insider reporter Mary Hanbury wrote about encountering a horde of nude, grey mannequins in a Manhattan Charlotte Russe …

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The mannequins were a bit spooky.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


… and the Williamsburg store was no different. The effect was pretty eerie.

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Some of the mannequins were missing the top portion of their bodies.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to get locked in alone here at night.

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The mannequins were for sale, too.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

While the front of the store was empty aside from a few racks, the back section behind the checkout desk was a cluttered mess.

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There were a lot of office supplies out in the open.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

A wall of cardboard boxes divided the space …

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I took an accidental mirror selfie next to the wall of boxes.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… and bordered a maze of shelves and tables.

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I was curious to see if anyone would buy a table or a shelving unit.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The floor was also pretty dirty. Not that anyone cared. The employees were busy handling the closing sale, after all.

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Somebody tracked some mud into the store.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

You could hardly expect them to obsess over cleaning a store that would be closed in a few hours,

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I snuck a peek into the employees’ backroom.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

At that point, my friend and I wrapped up our browsing and got in line. My friend ended up buying shoes, hair accessories, bracelets, and makeup. The six products cost just $9.10 in total.

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Here’s my friend’s haul.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

There was a decent-sized line to check out, but the clerks kept everything moving along quickly. I asked the friendly cashier who rang me up about how the day was going.

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Customers visited the store to take advantage of its closing sale.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

She indicated that it had been a good level of busy for most of the day; products were selling, but the employees weren’t overwhelmed.

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The store wasn’t packed, but it did attract a steady stream of customers.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The cashier was also sure to note that, given that Charlotte Russe is going out of business, there wouldn’t be an opportunity to return any of my purchases in the future.

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Charlotte Russe filed to liquidate earlier in March.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

I was happy to walk away with a bag of cheap jewelry, but watching a company that I’d grown up with flatline in real time was a gloomy experience.

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Farewell, Charlotte Russe.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Did you work for Charlotte Russe? Business Insider wants to hear from you. Email acain@businessinsider.com.